On 8 July 1912 Nora and Lucia arrived in Dublin.
Though Joyce had made two return visits to Ireland in 1909, Nora had not been home since leaving Dublin in 1904. She had been corresponding with her family for a while and since there wasn’t enough money for the entire Joyce family to visit Ireland together, Nora and Lucia travelled alone, arriving in Dublin on 8 July 1912.
When they arrived at Westland Row railway station off the boat-train, Nora and Lucia were greeted by a welcoming party of Joyces including John Joyce and three of his children, Charles, Eva and Florence. Eva had lived in Trieste with her brothers and Nora from September 1909 to July 1911, and Charles had only just returned from four years in America.
From the railway station they went along Westland Row to Finn’s Hotel where Nora had been working as a chambermaid when she and Joyce met for the first time in June 1904. It must have been with some sense of achievement that she returned now, eight years later, in her fine continental clothes accompanied by her five-year-old Italian-speaking daughter.
The family had dinner together at Finn’s Hotel, where Nora and Lucia stayed for two nights before travelling on to Galway to visit Nora’s family there. Before they left Dublin for Galway, Nora and Lucia went to Howth for a day out with John Joyce, having tea and sandwiches, and even sending a postcard to Joyce.
Though Nora’s visit was primarily a holiday to visit her family, Joyce had asked her to call on George Roberts at Maunsel and Company to see what was holding up progress on the publication of Dubliners. John and Charles Joyce decided to accompany her but despite their efforts Roberts told them he was busy and asked them to call another time. Nora and Charles went again twice but Roberts managed to evade them.
When she arrived in Galway, Nora wrote to Joyce to report on her meeting with Roberts, but Joyce wasn’t in Trieste when the letter arrived. After a couple of days without Nora, Joyce received the postcard sent from Howth and, desperate to see Nora, he persuaded Ettore Schmitz to pay in advance for twelve English lessons. With the money, he was able to pay for himself and Giorgio to travel to Ireland. This summer of 1912, Joyce’s last visit to Ireland, was also the first and last time the whole family were in Ireland together.
Sources & Further Reading:
Ellmann, Richard: James Joyce – new and revised edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.
Maddox, Brenda: Nora – A Biography of Nora Joyce, London: Hamish Hamilton, 1988.
Norburn, Roger: A James Joyce Chronology, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.